Over the last year, we’ve been hard at work rewriting the infrastructure underlying Google Docs to take advantage of the latest advances in modern browsers. Our updated codebase will help us deliver richer functionality more quickly, and over the next few days, we’ll be rolling out a preview of the new editors.

New document and spreadsheet features
You shouldn’t have to give up any routine features when you switch to web-based applications, and we’re addressing many longstanding requests across Google Docs with this release that were not feasible with older browser technology. Documents support better formatting options like a margin ruler, better numbering and bullets, and more flexible image placement. Spreadsheets now have a familiar formula editing bar, cell auto-complete, drag-and-drop columns and more.

Higher fidelity document import
It should be easy to move files saved on your computer to the cloud, so we made our document upload feature much stronger. Imported documents keep their original structure more accurately, so you can spend less time adjusting files you move to the cloud.

Speed and responsiveness
Browser-based applications shouldn’t force you to compromise on performance either, and our new architecture is much faster than before. Working with very large spreadsheets is even snappy now. Web apps really can feel just as fluid as traditional software.
Faster collaboration
Collaboration has always been Google Docs’ forte, and the new codebase is letting us leap forward here, too. The applications support up to 50 simultaneous editors, and documents let you see other people’s changes character-by-character as they type. Finally, we’ve added multi-user editing to drawings too, so now you can build flow charts, schematics, and other kinds of diagrams collaboratively.

The new Google Docs editors will take advantage of faster rendering engines in modern browsers as well as new web standards like HTML5. As a result, we need to temporarily remove offline support for Docs starting May 3rd, 2010. We know that this is an important feature for some of you, and we are working hard to bring a new and improved HTML5-based offline option back to Google Docs. Please note that this change only concerns Google Docs. We will continue to support offline access for Gmail and Google Calendar. To learn more, please see our Help Center.

Over the next few days, users will be able to start creating collaborative drawings from the Docs list. For Google Apps customers with the control panel option set to “enable new pre-release features,” users will have the option to enable the new document editor in the ‘Document settings’ page, and activate the new spreadsheet editor with the “New version” link at the top of any spreadsheet.

These improvements to Google Docs are designed to help businesses like yours move to the cloud faster and be more productive than ever before. We look forward to hearing what you think.

To learn more about these new features, check out our on-demand webinar.

Posted by Anil Sabharwal, Product Manager, Google Apps

Editor's note: To learn more, check out the Google Docs blog for deep dives on the new editors for Documents, Spreadsheets, and Drawings. Original links to webinar registration removed on 04/23/2010.

Update (05/05/2010): We’ve received a lot of great questions about the new Google Docs editors in our forums, blog comments, and webinars. Check out this post on the Google Docs blog for answers to the most frequent questions.